Have your recent travel plans been cancelled because of the current pandemic? Are you feeling overwhelmed, confused and pressured to follow a curriculum with your child while they're home during this period? Finding different resources (that require a lot of preparation on your end!) which are interesting to your child is easier said than done - even if you’ve been saving all those printables on Pinterest or Instagram!
My family and I were planning on visiting Japan last month to celebrate Hanami (annual Cherry Blossom Viewing in Japan which is best observed during March-April). The kids were excited to have picnics under the beautiful Sakura trees and savour tasty treats. But we had to cancel our travel plans with the current COVID-19 precautions that are being taken. The kids were of course a little disappointed but that didn't dampen our spirits to learn about Japan.
Since we are all going to be home for an indefinite period of time (with travel not possible), I started putting together a list of world culture resources we have personally used and loved that require minimal to no preparation (hence, low-waste!) as I know it can get stressful to not only put together various materials but actually find the time to use them all!
Exploring the cultures of the world can be fun and child-led even from the comforts of your home. If your child has a country in mind that she/he wants to learn about, help them spark their curiosity about that country's cultures through stories, fun facts and games mentioned in these resources. So if your child wants to learn about Mexico this month, search for Mexican-related activities under each of the resources mentioned below.
The resources included here cater to different needs and interests so feel free to use them in any way you think is best for your child. They can used during mealtimes, play or even before bedtime! They're also free [unless mentioned] :)
[Do read my previous blog post here about why I believe it is important for children to learn about the world's diverse cultures]
1. Audio Stories
We love the Magic Tree House stories as they combine both facts and fiction that appeal to young children. The main characters Jack and Annie go on exciting adventures and learn about the featured topic and country (for example, Vikings from Scandinavia, Ninjas from Japan or Mummies from Egypt). My kids enjoy the simple stories and they're simultaneously learning about a country while following Jack and Annie on their magical adventures.
If you're new to Audible, u can download the first series of Magic Tree House Collection (books 1-8) for free after which you can get a subscription. They're also currently offering multiple titles for free during this stay-home period.
Once your child has completed a book, hop on over to the Magic Tree House Kids website to play games and earn "cards" and "medallions".
I recently discovered Around the World Stories which is a subscription-based original audio story series created by a parent couple after their travels around the globe. You can clearly see their passion for other cultures that comes through in the stories they've created to educate and inspire children to learn about the world. Each week, a 30-min original adventure story clip is delivered to your inbox along with a comprehensive parent guide that includes activities, recipes and fun facts about that country.
These are some of our favorite podcasts when we need a little break from our toys and books. They're perfect when on the go, while waiting in line at the supermarket or even during quiet time. We downloaded these on the Podcasts app on my Apple iPhone but you can also find them on the Google Podcasts App.
World of Wonder (children interviewing native people from the featured country to share about their culture)
Kid-Friendly Geography Fun Facts (2 minute fun facts about a country)
Barefoot Books (folktales from around the world)
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls (stories about inspiring women from around the world)
I try and limit my kids' screen-time as much as I can but they do get opportunities to navigate around apps that have potential to teach them while they're having fun (this momma needs a break once in a while too!). I found the following apps highly entertaining and educational for my children and hope you enjoy them too!
Montessorium: Intro to Geography (Montessori-inspired app to teach continent and country names and their locations on the map)
Google Arts & Culture (educational app to learn about world cultures, artists and enter virtual museums to see famous art pieces)
Barefoot World Atlas (interactive app to learn about countries, cities, landmarks, animals, people and global art; paid app)
Every child I know loves to play games! And what better way to learn about cultures than play games that children around the world enjoy? Here you'll find a list of resources that include fun games to play with your child while learning about the country they're from.
Games Around the World (email me for a sample of the games generously given to my readers by Julie from Globe Trottin Kids or purchase the whole set here)
Global Kids Cards (purchase the cards from Barefoot Books)
5. Music and Food
While we play games, sample country-specific foods or even do crafts, I love having folk or traditional music running in the background to give the kids an opportunity to appreciate the music from that country. One of my favourite music playlists on the Spotify app is 'Putumayo Kids'. They have a wonderful selection of music from around the world that are much loved by my children.
Exploring foods from different countries gives children a chance to relate to kids around the world. We want them to not only appreciate the culinary practices of others but also an opportunity to be curious, experimental and accepting of them. I enjoy cooking global cuisines with my children as it provides opportunities for them to have respectful interactions in the real world.
Music Exploration: You can download various Putumayo Kids Playlists (based on the featured country of study) on the Spotify app. You can read about Putumayo kids on their official website here.
Sampling Local Foods: Search for global recipes from Global Table Adventures and cook traditional food from the country of interest with your children. Sasha has recipes from over a 195 countries and has the most gorgeous recipe cards which are thoroughly researched! Another way to explore world cuisines is ordering-in foods from restaurants of the country of study using your local food delivery services.
I like mixing up my kids' screen-time activities to include virtual world travels or when they're researching about the country of their choice. I've included the links below!
National Geographic Family (fun ideas, tips and activities to explore the world and live an eco-friendly lifestyle)
Scholastic Global Trek (travel the world virtually by learning about a country's culture and people and document your "travels" in a virtual travel journal)
World Geography Games (learn about countries, capitals, states, provinces, regions flags and much much more)
I hope you've found this list of fun, low-waste world culture exploration resources enjoyable! Tag me on Instagram @globalmindfuljourney so I can see you exploring the world with your little adventurer using the above resources. If you know others who might find this post useful, I hope you can help share it!
Each of the resources above were tried and tested by our family and were purchased by us before this blog post was published. All opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not sponsored. This post contains affiliate links (at no cost to you!) that help me maintain this blog and find amazing resources for you!